Interview with Paul Smith
The Adventures of Moose & Mr Brown is the first children’s book by Britain’s foremost fashion designer Sir Paul Smith. A laugh-out-loud story of animals, travel, design and finding inspiration in the most unlikely of places, it is illustrated by the hugely talented Sam Usher. To celebrate the publication of this first book in an exciting new series we asked Paul Smith a few questions about his ideas for the book and his work as a fashion designer.
What made you want to write a children’s book?
I often talk about the importance of having a childlike curiosity and Picasso is known for saying he spent his lifetime learning to paint like a child. I think we both mean that children have the most wonderful way of looking at the world with complete innocence and curiosity. I’m always curious to work outside my comfort zone of making clothes, whether that means designing a Land Rover Defender, an Anglepoise lamp, a Leica Camera or even writing a children’s book. By being curious, I find everything around me endlessly inspiring.
Moose and Mr Brown are based on toys you have in your office, did you already have an idea of their characters before you started working on the story?
Yes, absolutely! Along with many of the other toys in my very busy office, Moose and Mr Brown have been living their own story for a long time before the book idea came about.
Was the relationship between Moose and Mr Brown inspired by any of your friends or colleagues?
Not as such. They are both colleagues and friends in their own right. Mr Brown is my office manager. By day, he can usually be found sitting on top of a cabinet in my office supervising the team. By night, I’m pretty certain he goes and joins Moose and the other toys where they get up to all sorts of high jinx!
Did creating a children’s book involve a very different way of working to fashion design, or was it a similar process (from initial thoughts and ideas, to writing the story, to seeing the characters and scenes come to life)?
A completely different process. And that’s what I love about leaving my comfort zone and collaborating with people or companies outside of fashion. I find the whole process of learning about a different area of creativity very inspiring. The team working on the book did a wonderful job of helping me through the process and the illustrations bring the whole story to life so brilliantly.
What were your favourite stories/books as a child?
I’m actually dyslexic and so reading was always a big challenge growing-up but I do love the work of Heath Robinson and have done since the moment I first saw one of his books. His imagination is so incredible and the way he captures it in these wonderfully whimsical drawings is just endlessly inspiring.
What do you like to do with your time when you’re not working on the Paul Smith business, or writing books?
To be honest, that doesn’t leave a lot of time left! But I’m a keen cyclist and as a young boy growing up in Nottingham, I had dreams of becoming a professional bike rider. A bad crash put an end to the dreams but I still like to get out on my bike when I can, especially when I’m on holiday in my home in Tuscany in Italy.
Find out more about The Adventures of Moose & Mr Brown. The book is available now in hardback and also as a boxed limited edition with a print signed by the author and illustrator.
Photo credit: Sabine Villiard